Woohoo! It may have taken a few weeks-months, a lot of persistence and encouragement on your end, but you got your little one sleeping well. Now it’s time to loosen the reigns on the sleep rules and put them to the test on holidays!!!
Whether you are staying with family/friends, in a tent, a camper, a hotel, or cabin, it can be quite stressful to plan the logistics of your child’s sleep while away. Rest assured travelling with children of all ages is manageable with a little consideration and planning.
In no particular order, here are my best tips on maintaining sleep while on holiday:
Have a practice run
If the sleeping arrangements are completely different to home, or this the first time away, try it out at home first. This will allow you to problem solve any issues that come up. If your little one really doesn’t settle, you can pull the pin, put them to bed in their own bed, and reassess in the morning.
We trialled a stretcher with my son recently and bedtime turned into a circus! I wondered why he was constantly getting up and coming out to find us. After laying on the stretcher myself, I realised there was a bar digging into his back! Safe to say we haven’t used it since!
Make this experience fun. You could pitch a tent in the backyard. We opted for a sleepover at Nana and Pa’s where we knew we had a bed we could put our son in if he really didn’t take to the stretcher (luckily!).
A big mistake parents make is over-scheduling themselves. They try to pack in all the fun and adventure they might normally have had back in their “child-free” days, forgetting an important fact: they have a child now! Plan activities but allow time for naps in your accommodation as regularly as possible.
Don’t Totally ‘Throw out’ the Sleep Schedule
An occasional car nap or slightly later bedtime probably isn’t going to do too much harm, but if your child spends a couple of days taking car seat naps here and there and having late bedtimes, they run the risk of becoming overtired. This can quickly result in meltdowns, tantrums, bedtime battles, and a lot of crying – not a fun holiday for anyone!
If that happens, you might start to get very nervous because:
- Your little one, who has been happily putting him/herself to sleep for weeks, is now crying again
- Your family/friend is standing outside the door repeatedly asking you if you’re sure the baby is ok
It’s easy to see how you could revert back to the old sleep props in no time if you gave into this pressure and fear. Don’t bend your expectations for your child’s sleep, make every effort to maintain the schedule your little one has been following a home.
Children will Push the Boundaries
It’s very normal for babies and toddlers to test the boundaries when they are somewhere new. Just because the rule is the rule at home, that does not necessarily mean the rule is the same at Nana’s house! This may mean that your baby cries for some time at bedtime or has a night waking or two.
The best way to handle it is to not do too much different than you would if the regression happened at home. You can go in and offer some comfort and reassurance: shushing, patting, etc, but don’t bend your rules too much. Avoid reintroducing old sleep props.
If you remain consistent, your child will be used to the new environment and will be sleeping well again within a night or two.
If you are staying with family or friends, it can be helpful to talk to them about your journey with sleep so they understand you have put measures in place to help your little one sleep better. They can support you to implement strategies if they understand what the strategies are and why you have put them in place.
Don’t Share Beds
Sharing a bed with their baby or toddler, is the biggest mistake parents make when on holidays. Even if it’s only for a few nights, bed sharing is a big no-no! If your baby decides this is their new preferred location, you could find yourself starting all over again when you get home. Most hotels have a cot you can use or rent, or take your own portacot along and use that.
Don’t Forget the Comforters and/or Favourite Blanket!!!
Pack these in your ‘carry on’ luggage if flying, the last thing you want to deal with is an unruly toddler without their comforter if your luggage gets lost! If you have more than 1 comforter, I recommend packing a spare as you never know what may happen on your travels (comforters get lost in transit, need to be washed, etc).
Pack for the naptime and bedtime routines as well. For example, if your routine includes books or special oil in the bath – pack these items.
Packed and ready to go?
In spite of their best efforts, many parents find themselves reverting back to old, familiar sleep props with their children when they travel. If you find that it’s all fallen apart in just a week or two, the good news is that it’s just as easy to get back on track within a week or two. As soon as you get home, start your plan over – and hold tight to the memory that your child is capable of doing this – you may need this motivation to make it over the mountain!
Holidays make great memories, so make sure you don’t stress yourself out of taking them when your children are little. Sure, they may result in a regression regarding sleep, but you will get back on track.
As always, I’m here to help if you get stuck along the way so please reach out if you need.